In order to integrate the photo a little more, I drew into the design, particularly the photo strip, with white and blue crayons to attempt to link the strips.
The original photo I printed out onto thin canvas, the kind used to print banners, so that I could embroider into it without hoop support. The 'strips' of colour were made by embellishing wool tops into the canvas from the back. I didn't want to give the appearance of solid felt but I did want to cover all the photo background and create soft edges to the strips. The canvas was also selected because it withstands the needlefelting well without distortion.
At this point I added in a piece of his ear into the design to give a bit of balance to the sample.
To cut a long process short, here is the finished sample with a couple of closeups.
The sample is sewn mostly using underside couching / cabling with cotton perle 5 and 8 in the bobbin, but I've also used whipstitching for finer lines and shading areas.
I used copper metallic thread to give an indication of the original underlying layer of orange paint in the blue background of the paper design, through specks of whipstitch.
The sample is approximately A5 size taking around 5 hours to compete.